Programme Director Dr Kevin Kuykendall
Other core teaching staff;
It has been argued that a sense of the past, and of our origins, lies at the root of what it is to be human – and it is a desire to uncover that past and reveal those origins, that underpins the modern discipline of archaeology. As such, archaeology and related disciplines both trace the becoming of humanity and form some part of what it means to be human. It should come as no surprise therefore, that there has been intense academic and public interest in hominid origins and human evolution, nor that advances in our understanding are continually driven forward by new archaeological and palaeontological discoveries. In addition, evolutionary perspectives are increasingly recognised as providing important insights into human cognition, behaviour and lifeways. Our MSc in Palaeoanthropology draws on these developments, and provides you with a unique combination of Palaeolithic archaeology, biological anthropology, human and comparative anatomy, primatology and hominid palaeontology. The programme is designed to appeal to those who want to create a strong platform for doctoral research in hominid origins and/or human evolution, as well as those who just want to deepen their understanding of our earliest ancestors.
The programme offers a range of closely integrated core modules, which enable you to develop your knowledge and understanding of palaeoanthropology. You will receive training in the analytical techniques required to describe and interpret the fossil evidence for early hominid and human evolution and learn to think critically about current research in the field. Optional modules provide you with the opportunity to enhance your knowledge of key issues in early Palaeolithic archaeology. A wide range of up-to-date resources is available in the department's Osteology and Palaeoanthropology Teaching Laboratories.
Sheffield is the ideal place to pursue this programme. The teaching staff provide a distinctive combination of expertise in Palaeoanthropology, primatology and Palaeolithic archaeology and, through their field projects, are active in new research about hominid origins, human evolution and the lifeways of our earliest ancestors – the knowledge of which feeds directly into their teaching. As in all our programmes, we stress the integration of `science-based´ and `humanities´ approaches to produce a deeper understanding of the origins of humanity. We provide you with the opportunity to work between and across different viewpoints and approaches and to make your own mind up about their strengths and weaknesses. What we will ask of you, as a member of our lively academic community, is that you learn, think and develop your own answers to the questions raised.
Seven core modules provide you with key skills and knowledge in paleoanthropology;
Human Anatomy [15 credits] Introduce you to human musculoskeletal anatomy. The structural arrangements of bones, joints, muscles, circulation and nerves are related to their function in support and movement, and to their evolutionary and developmental origins.
Human Osteology [15 credits] Provides you with a detailed examination of the human skeleton including structure and function of the skeleton, identification of bones and teeth, musculoskeletal markers, and criteria for distinguishing between human and faunal remains.
Evolutionary Anatomy [15 credits] Assessment of human and primate anatomy, and of functional and developmental studies concerning the evolution of hominid morphology.
Evolutionary Primatology [15 credits] Provides an evolutionary history of the order Primates, from their origins in the early Tertiary mammalian radiation to the diversity of extant primates found today; also covers the evolutionary origins of primate morphological adaptations and behavioural flexibility.
Hominid Palaeontology [15 credits] Covers issues critical to the interpretation the hominid fossil record in Africa, Asia and Europe: hominid systematics; hominid palaeoecology; hominid adaptations; vertebrate taphonomy and fossil site formation; behaviorial and cognitive evolution; biomolecular evidence for hominid and human evolution
Hominid Palaeontology Laboratory [15 credits] A practical-based approach to understanding and describing the morphology and variation of different early hominid species, involving practical exercises and group work with the department´s hominid fossil cast collection
Quantitative Methods in Anthropology [15 credits] Explores a series of examples of the application of statistical methods to quantitative problems in biological anthropology
In addition to the core modules you choose one of the following 15 credit options;
- Palaeolithic Art
- Biomolecular Archaeology
Finally, you complete a 60-credit dissertation on a subject of your choice within the field of Palaeoanthropology generally defined. We encourage students, whenever possible, to conduct their own research and data collection in laboratory studies, skeletal collections, and fieldwork. You might see your Masters dissertation as the platform for further study of topics/issues in your doctoral research, or as means to acquire specialist knowledge relevant to your (future) employment. Alternatively, you might want to use it simply to advance your knowledge and understanding of an aspect of palaeoanthropology.
A good degree (Minimum UK 2:1, US GPA 3.0) in a relevant science subject.
For applicants whose first language is not English, IELTS is the preferred test of language. You need an IELTS score of 6.5, with at least 5.5 in all the component tests. If you are unable to sit IELTS, you should take TOEFL. You need iBT 100, with a minimum component score of 23.